1 vs 100: 10 Years Later and the Void Remains

Who remembers this game?! I’m a sucker for trivia or pub quizzes and so this was right up my alley, even as an idiotic teen back in 2009. For those that missed this gem and I can’t blame you for not hearing about it, it was a live quiz show on the Xbox 360 with real life presenters. The prizes were Microsoft Points and the chance to win an Xbox Live Arcade game. You may have seen the 1 vs 100 TV show and this was basically that except the players were all sat on their backsides at home. My kind of game! Players were represented by their Xbox avatars, back when Microsoft were really pushing them, hoping to get on that sweet sweet Mii train.

1 vs 100 Question]

Players are split into 3 groups: The One, The Mob and The Crowd. The Crowd is essentially just an audience but how well you play as an audience member can affect whether you get into The Mob on the next round. The Mob is composed of 100 players and they are The One’s rival. The One is Neo, led by Morpheus. That’s a joke, a bad one, but still a joke. Side note, Neo is an anagram of One. Took me to the 3rd film to realise that. I was a clever boy evidently and 1 vs 100 was clearly my forte. Anyway, The One is the contestant at the centre. They have the biggest potential win and must compete against the 100. Questions will appear on screen and all players will choose an answer from the 3 choices. If you get it right, you get a score and the score is higher the quicker you choose your answer. If The One gets it right, they advance to the next question. Whoever in The Mob gets it wrong, is eliminated from the current round. The more members of The Mob are eliminated, the more Microsoft Points The One can earn. As the game progresses, The One will get several chances to take his current winnings and bail or gamble it to compete against the remaining Mob members. If The One out quizzes his opponents and is the sole victor, he/she gets 10,000 Microsoft Points. If they are eliminated though, they get nothing. At the end of the round, the 3 top scoring players of The Crowd get whatever Xbox Live Arcade game is up for grabs, the remaining Mob members get the game too and if there are 40 Mob members or less, each Mob member will receive some Microsoft Points. How many Microsoft Points they get depends on how many Mob members were remaining. The One also has 3 ways to get help. There is ‘Trust The Mob’, ‘Trust The Crowd’ and ‘Trust The Top 10’. These are pretty self-explanatory but they basically mean that you choose the answer the respective group chooses.

1 vs 100 Trust

And that is 1 vs 100! If you play well and quick you get upgraded into The Mob. If you’re in The Mob you can win some points or a game. And I believe you just have to play well to get a chance at being The One. What I loved about 1 vs 100 is the questions were the right level of difficulty. It knew its audience and chose more pop culture and general knowledge questions with a few brain thinkers now and then. Microsoft could have been really stingy and make the questions super difficult to avoid giving away points but they seemed to embrace what they were aiming for. Me and my friends loved this game! We would be on mics sharing answers and freaking out whenever one of us got into The Mob. I got in it once! But nerves got the better of me and I didn’t make it to the top 50. It was sad in a way that I was spending my late teen years playing 1 vs 100 on a Friday night but we had a great laugh. Apparently a lot of people did as according to the Internet, the highest attendance was over 114,000 people at one point. That’s over 1/10 of a million people playing a quiz show. That’s insane when you think about it, a quiz game! It’s not Call of Duty or watching a World Cup final figures but for what is pub quiz, I find that to be huge.

But 10 years on and 1 vs 100 on the Xbox 360 no longer runs. The game only had 2 seasons and the 1st one was a Beta test. It was functional but needed some technical fixes. Season 2 was fantastic but wasn’t good enough to net a 3rd season. This may be due to time zones or advertising revenue not enough to offset the technical cost as well as the Microsoft Points being handed out. I think this idea could work today though. Scale it back to time zones specific versions and reduce prize pool if necessary but the technology is here now. It doesn’t have to be 1 vs 100 but I think a revival would work well. With Twitch as well, this could very easily be implemented or even produced by Twitch. Pick a famous streamer each week, let them be the host, use the viewership as contestants and give out prizes. It’d get Twitch more viewers and give streamers a spotlight to attract new fans. If you’ve played the Jackbox games, you know that there is an audience participation feature that works really well. Something similar to that would bode well for this idea. Yes, we are in the age of technology and everyone can get the answers at their fingertips but the quickest Google search fingers will never beat a mind that knows the answers. Base rewards on accuracy and speed and you’re good to go.

1 vs 100 was very unique at the time and I still think it hasn’t been surpassed in terms of what it achieved. Sure Fortnite has these big events that change each season but it’s still a game at the end of the day. This was a game show converted into a live game and it worked for the most part! Some technical flaws here and there but the overall experience was addictive and stupidly fun. It seemed like a major leap in community gaming at the time and a merging of two mediums but since then that idea has kind of rescinded. I would have loved to have seen more ideas like this or an evolution of 1 vs 100 over the years. This is a prime idea that needs picking back up again. Maybe it exists and I’ve missed it, if so please feel free to let me know in the comments. And if you played this or have some love for this forgotten pioneer then do tell your thoughts. Maybe you got to be The One! You’re a legend in my eyes if you ever got that chance. Anyway, thanks for reading and take it easy.

 

Marriage In Gaming And The Lack Thereof

I am married! Officially off the market and happy to be so. Currently on last day of honeymoon and been craving to write and so I thought I’d talk about what’s been on my mind predominantly the past month, marriage. Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with my day. I’m talking about marriage in gaming.

When I decided to write about this topic I started to think over my 1/4 of a century gaming knowledge and I quickly realised how little marriage is in games. Considering marriage has been around for seemingly ever and is a tradition across most of the world, it sure doesn’t come across that way in video games. I can understand this to an extent though. Game publishers want the player to feel a connection to their protagonist or to want to play as a fantastical protagonist. Marcus Fenix from the Gears Of War series doesn’t look like an average gamer but the boulder in armour appeals to that fantasy element. Who doesn’t love pretending to be a badass? Marriage would only hold that fantasy back. Then there is the classic, regular person finds out they are the chosen one or falls into a situation where they save the world. I would be lying to say that I haven’t daydreamed about that in work now and then. Commitments like marriage, a job and family would also lessen that fantasy. Not saying I wouldn’t like that to be an element in games, but from a publisher stand point I understand. The average age of gamers is rising but I don’t think I’m far wrong in saying that the majority of game revenue is from the teenager to early 20’s demographic. As I’ve been ageing my game buying has decreased, as have my friends spending habits too. In my early 20’s I bought games willy-nilly but there is a reason I had more money and free time back then. I was devoid of commitments and any commitments I had were minor compared to today.  So I understand publishers aiming for that larger revenue.

As I said though, the age of the average gamer is rising and so I believe it’s time we see this being reflected in games. Not in all games it’d be a good way to distinguish your game from the crowd. Games like Mass Effect where you get a template character and a choose your own backstory section would bode well to have a marriage life option included. A checkbox that allows you to include a married life package or even create your spouse and children in a character creator. It would allow players to a wider range of character depth and for those that have a family, it’s nice to be able to experience that in a fictitious setting too. It doesn’t even have to be anything major in that marriage package. Could just be a home on a distant planet that you can visit now and again and have supper with the family. Or emails that you receive now and then about young Jimmy being bullied at his new school. In today’s games where we have an overabundance of things to do on the map, a little subplot about married life shouldn’t be hard to implement. The ability to play Commander Shepard as a family war hero rather than the swinging bachelor war hero would be a welcome change to some games. Is it necessary in all games? Absolutely not, stories function better at times if the protagonist is single and ready to mingle but in games where that doesn’t matter, a choice would be a welcome one.

Most games where marriage is a component, the marriage aspect is usually a story point. FFX and FFXV both have key plots that revolve around a marriage. The original Gears Of War trilogy has Dom’s personal mission of trying to find his wife Maria. Uncharted 4 has Nathan Drake struggling to adapt to a stable married life instead of his daring and dangerous past. While I enjoyed each of these, they are generally end goals or things to push the story in the right direction. Dom’s search is the exception there but it’s never the main story thread. There can be hours before Dom pipes up about his wife and even though I enjoyed that plot, it is a sub plot. What I want is a more natural married life situation. I want it to be there and to have meaning to the whole story or a majority of it. It doesn’t have to be the main focus but it should be there and not just something that dips in and out to add stakes or to propel a story beat. Even though those things are fine to do in games as well, I just would like to see it more fleshed out. When I was thinking about games that I’ve played that featured well done couples, I really struggled to remember any. There is one that I instantly remembered and one that I remembered really appreciating when I played it and that was Lost Odyssey.

lost odyssey

Lost Odyssey was a JRPG that came out on the Xbox 360 in 2008. It centres on Kaim, a member of the Immortals, a race of….well immortal beings. For some reason the Immortals lose their memories and what follows is a quest to recover Kaim’s memories and to save the land from disaster. Not a wholly original plot but what makes it for me is the introduction of the rest of the party. Specifically Sarah, Cooke and Mack. Sarah is also an Immortal who has lost her memory but it is revealed that Kaim and Sarah are husband and wife. Not only that but Mack and Cooke are Kaim and Sarah’s grandchildren. For the majority of the game, these 4 are together, traversing this world and trying to prevent disaster from happening. How often can you think of a game where husband and wife are a team in combat situations? How often are the children or grandchildren of these people involved? Not only are they an integral part of the combat and its mechanics but also the story. The kids and Sarah aren’t just chucked in for a bit of drama or aren’t the driving force at the start of the story. They all go on an adventure together as a family and I’ve hardly seen that in games. There are quite a few games where it’s brothers off on a mission together so why not couples? There is room to do a lot of creative things with marriage in gaming and not for it to be a basic mechanic in Fable 2 or some subplot to overcome. And while I don’t want those mechanics to disappear, I think it’s time we start seeing more representations of married, family or couples life in gaming.

Who knows, maybe I’m just high on married life. It’s only been a week since the day. Ask me how I feel about this in a year’s time. Maybe by then I’d vote to keep reality and fantasy as far from each other as possible. But until then, let me know your opinion and if you can think of any well done couple/marriage elements in gaming, feel free to share them as I’m quite interested in seeing more examples. Take it easy.

Dead Space: 10 Years Ago I Screamed In Space

10 years ago on this day in North America, Dead Space was released. Do you feel old yet? I do. I remember playing this on the day it came out in the UK. I also remember playing this at night and then realising I’m too much of a coward to continue. The next day I returned however and continued my romp from the Ishimura.

With it being Halloween I thought it was only fitting to briefly talk about this fantastic and genuinely scary game. Dead Space was a 3rd person horror/action game by the studio now known as Visceral Games. Rather fitting name don’t you think? It originally released on the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.

The game closely resembles the Alien franchise specifically the 1st one. As a side note, Dead Space 2 continues this pattern as it was more action focused like Aliens. The gameplay is over the shoulder similar to Resident Evil 4. In the game, we played as Isaac Clarke, space engineer as he journeys through the Ishimura, a planet cracking vessel.

The story is very basic but works well with the atmosphere. This is a game that wants you to feel isolated. Isaac boards the ship as he had received a distress message from his partner, Nicole, who was aboard the vessel herself. When Isaac boards the ship all he finds is desolation, bodies and the Necromorphs.

Necromorphs

Necromorphs are a fantastic monster design. Throughout gaming we’ve been told to inflict pain on the head for big damage or aim for the biggest target, aka the body, usually. The Necromorphs are beings that you need to dismember to take out. Arms and legs are the first to go as these nightmares are dangerous but also agile.

Dead Space stands out because it did so many things different. It was horror in space which surprisingly was a barren zone for games. Isaac wasn’t a space marine, he was an engineer and the weapons he used were modified space tools. He didn’t board the Ishimura with intent to kill. He just thought the ship was malfunctioning and he’s the man to fix it. As I mentioned, there is little story or dialogue as the developers wanted the player to feel alone and vulnerable. But what they did put into their game, was oodles upon oodles of unease.

Mild spoilers for this game. I highly recommend you play it if you haven’t. Throughout the game Isaac catches glances of his partner Nicole. As you progress these sightings become more strange and unnerving. I won’t spoil it but the team did a great job with this aspect. And if you want an extra spoiler/tid bit have a look at this article from last year Trivia- Dead Space: Chapter Cryptology

Dead Space, for me, is a template for horror/action games. What it really hit on the head was the atmosphere and build up. You don’t go in guns blazing and the first hour of the game might be one of the scariest and most oppressive hours of my life. The creaks of the ventilation system (which the Necromorphs use to get around the ship), the mad scribbling’s on the walls and the lack of sound in the game just gives me that paranoid feeling where I’m inching around corners.

dead-space-limbs

Dead Space will forever be on the mantle of games that scared the hell out of me. It’s quite a crowded mantle but Dead Space is one of the best and its sequel is a fantastic follow up, building on the psychological aspect magnificently. I really do hope we see this series again some day. Thank you for reading and feel free to share your thoughts on Dead Space in the comments.